Beauty How-To: Get The Perfect Precise Statement Lip For Fall In Five Easy Steps

The cooler seasons always call for more dramatic beauty looks, from sultry smoky eyes to vampy red lips, but this year’s focus is especially inclined toward a statement lip that’s a touch darker than the usual fall fare. Most of us (myself included) won’t have the guts for the vampy bordeaux lips we’ve been seeing on celebs, but a striking red never goes out of style (plus, it totally completes an otherwise low-maintenance face, perfect for those foggy mornings where you just don’t want to get out of bed). The catch to wearing the look is that, while bold opaque lipstick is guaranteed to grab attention, it also grabs on to any wayward imperfections, like fine lines or chapped lips. There are a few steps you can take to get the most out of your lipstick, whether it’s matte or satin, burgundy or coral — just follow these tips and go for it!

1. Prep lips by exfoliating beforehand. If you’re going to be wearing lipstick from morning until night, do it before bed the previous night; if you’re only wearing it for a night or a few hours, you can do it just before. There are a variety of products for this purpose (the ones by Sara Happ are a cult favorite) but you can achieve the same effect just as easily with a bit of sugar blended with olive oil. Scrub in a circular motion using your finger or a toothbrush (preferably one you no longer use to brush your teeth).

2. Load on the lip balm! If you’re doing it the night before, you can use any formula and let it sink in all night, but if you’re planning on applying lipstick soon after you should use a matte formula (Jack Black, a men’s brand with no relation to the actor, makes an amazing matte balm) and give it a few minutes (as long as possible) to sink in, then gently wipe it off with a soft tissue.

3. Your lips are now prepped for application. It really depends on what formula you’re using and the shape of the lipstick you’re applying, and it’s totally up to you, but ugh, I will forever recommend using a lip brush. It allows a precision you just can’t get from applying straight out of the tube, even if you correct your lines after, and it negates the need for a lipliner to prevent bleeding and feathering. This MAC brush is cool because it’s retractable, meaning you can carry it in your bag to reapply throughout the day (or night or whatever). (If you aren’t using a brush, I do advise you use a lip liner; it’s worth investing in a clear version because you can use it with any color.) Apply the color from the inside out, beginning in the center of the lips and moving toward the outside. You can totally press your lips together to blend, just don’t rub them around too much or the color will migrate.

4. Do it again, Sam. If you want your color to last a really, really long time, go ahead and blot very gently with a paper towel, then do another layer. Reds and darker lipsticks tend to be fairly long-lasting anyway because of their pigmentation, but if you’re going to be at the office all day or out all night, it may be worth doing this step.

5. Clean up! Tidy up the edges with a damp Q-tip (I especially like the precision tip version, but it’s not necessary), and wear it! Do keep your lipstick and a portable brush with you — this look is high-maintenance, but the effect is always worth it.

[Photo from Rochas A/W 2012 via Style Bistro]